Now that the Brewers have added some offensive firepower, signing a free agent pitcher could help Milwaukee take the next step toward competing in 2021. That said, their homegrown talent could once again give the team a chance to fill out the starting rotation.
Brent Suter is one of those pitchers who could be used to do so. He is no stranger to starting despite primarily being in either a relief or “bullpen day” role the last few years.
2020 could be the season that Suter returns as a full-time starting pitcher. He has the talent, he has the experience and he would likely have the fans behind him.
Suter was primarily used as a starting pitcher before his injury in 2018. After that, his time on the mound for the Brewers went in a slightly different direction.
In 2017, his first season of extended action with the Crew, Suter started in 14 games for Milwaukee, ending with a 3-2 record and 3.42 ERA. 2018 saw him being utilized as a starter once again. Unfortunately he only made it through half the season before a torn UCL caused Suter to undergo Tommy John surgery on July 31, 2018.
Prior to the surgery, Suter had started 18 games in 2018, ending with an ERA of 4.44 and a record of 8-7. Brent also hit the first home run of his MLB career that year. His 433-foot bomb went to center off of Corey Kluber, who was still with the Cleveland Indians at the time.
Upon returning from his injury late the following year, Suter put together a short but effective 2019 season. He only pitched in nine games but had a 0.49 ERA and a 4-0 record. He also pitched a great fifth inning against the Washington Nationals in the Wild Card game at the end of that season. The game inevitably ended in heartache, but Suter ended his season on a high note.
Suter’s 2020 had its shares of ups and downs, but overall it was a solid campaign. By the end of the year, he had emerged as one of Milwaukee’s most reliable arms.
Pitching in 16 games during the 2020 season, Suter had a record of 2-0 and an ERA of 3.13. Four of those were starts in which he gave up only one earned run over those games. Whatever the Brewers needed from him during 2020, he was there and delivered.
The same couldn’t necessarily be said of some of the team’s other starters. Brett Anderson ended up missing the first and last parts of the season due to a blister problem. Corbin Burnes also had a late season injury. New Brewer Josh Lindblom didn’t have the first season the team expected him to have while Adrian Houser also had a disappointing short season after a promising start.
Suter’s solid year, team injuries, and lack of confidence in some of their arms even earned Suter the start of Game 1 in the 2020 playoffs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Staff ace Brandon Woodruff got scheduled for Game 2 due to a short turnaround after starting in the team’s second to last game of the season.
Sadly, Brent’s worst outing of the year came in that playoff game where he didn’t make it out of the second inning. The first inning started with a double. Then a walk. After recording a pop out, Suter then walked two straight, which brought in a run. He then walked in another run after recording his second out before the inning mercifully ended.
The second inning started with two straight doubles and another earned run. Suter recorded two straight outs after that, but then gave up another walk. Eric Yardley relieved him and got out of the jam, but the rough start basically set the tone for the night. Three earned runs and five walks later, the Milwaukee Brewers lost 4-2 to the Dodgers and were eventually swept in the series, 2-0.
Even with his rough end to the 2020 season, Brent Suter should be highly considered for a starting spot in 2021.
The Brewers’ starting rotation is still wide open. As of February 5th, 2021, the cemented three pitchers currently are Woodruff, Burnes, and Lindblom. Unless a free agent pitcher or two are brought in, Suter could easily re-emerge as a starter.
Who would fill out the rotation besides Suter? Yes, Milwaukee does have some young pitchers who could get a chance. Houser, Eric Lauer and Freddy Peralta all have starting experience. They may deserve another shot at it as still developing players with a talented bullpen behind them.
Blaine Hardy was just also just signed on January 28th by the Crew. He has been primarily a relief pitcher the last few years, but he also has experience as a starter. In 2018, he had 13 starts. He ended with a 4-5 record and an ERA of 3.56 and was used as a starting/relief hybrid that year, much like Suter, so he could also be considered for the rotation during Spring Training.
While there will be plenty of competition, Suter is a prime candidate to start this year. He is dynamite out of the bullpen with his fast and sneaky delivery, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be just as effective as a starter. And remember, some fans were quick to write off Burnes after the 2019 season, giving a prime example of why not to write off home grown talent.
Suter, Houser, Peralta, and Lauer all have solid chances at securing one of those final two rotation spots. Do the right thing, though, Counsell. Give one of them to The Raptor!